Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics

The Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics (PGD) by CBEC, launched in 2006, was the first comprehensive program for mid-career healthcare-related professionals in Pakistan. Since then, admissions to the program have been extended to students from other countries. The Centre considers PGD graduates as primary agents of change who will spread bioethics education and research within their institutions and countries.

The program aims to provide students with knowledge about bioethics pertaining to research, public health and clinical medicine. Students are also taught basic skills in analyzing and handling ethical dilemmas while paying attention to existing sociocultural contexts and economic realities. Over the year, they are nurtured to develop reflective abilities and critical thinking, and habits of self-directed learning.

The PGD degree is awarded by the Sindh Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) and recognized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

PGD Admissions and Evaluation Policies

COVID related regulations for 2023 academic cycle

This one-year program is specifically designed for working professionals. It consists of four modules taught at CBEC interspaced with distance learning components in the intervening months. The duration of first three modules is approximately 2 weeks. The last module includes a written examination and presentation by students of a “Bioethics PGD Project” which they are required to initiate and execute in their parent institutions following graduation.

Contact sessions

  • Foundations Module

The first module is taught over 2 weeks. It introduces students to the philosophical background of human moral thought extending from the Greeks to modern ethics. Other sessions cover the basics of moral traditions in different religions including Islam, historical interactions between ethics and law using paradigm legal cases, the evolution of contemporary bioethics and its globalization, and the importance of humanities (art and literature) in reflecting and shaping indigenous values in a society.

  • Research and Public Health Ethics Module

The second module is taught over 2 weeks. It is devoted to ethical issues involving human subject research and public health. Students are introduced to international guidelines for ethical research and the specific challenges of conducting ethical research within developing countries. Sessions are devoted to the functions of Institutional Review Boards/ Ethics Review Committees, and issues of conflicts of interest including those during interactions with the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Clinical Ethics Module

The third module, taught over 2 weeks, focuses on clinical ethics and highlights complex dilemmas emerging with the advances in biomedical science and technology. Case scenarios and discussions are employed to help familiarize students with ethical questions related to reproduction, genetics, end of life issues, organ donation, modern healthcare and practice among others. Workshops focusing on the basics of hospital ethics services and communication skills also form a core component.

  • Gender Ethics Module

The fourth and last module, spread over 5-6 days, provides students with a broad overview of ethical and legal debates pertaining to gender rights and relationships within societies with special attention to laws relating to women in Pakistan. Sessions also highlight the role of religion, including Muslim jurisprudence, in defining gender roles and its tensions with the human rights paradigm.

Distance Learning components

Between modules, PGD students post regularly to CBEC’s “Bioethics Blog,” a mandatory activity which is moderated by faculty. In addition, PGD students are required to submit “Must Respond” monthly assignments on a wide range of topics.

Pedagogical tools

Adult learning methodologies are employed in all four modules, which feature national and international faculty, with an emphasis on student presentations and small group discussions rather than didactic lectures. Movies and examples from art and literature are also included to highlight and discuss various ethical themes.

Assessment Strategies

  • Contact Sessions

During modules, PGD students are graded on quizzes, end of module tests and presentations. In the final module, students sit for an exam assessing understanding of subject material covered through the year.

  • Distance Learning

Between modules, students get monthly “Must Respond” assignments which are graded by faculty. PGD students also make brief postings, commentaries and discussion points on the CBEC “Bioethics Blog.” PGD students are awarded a pass or fail on Blog activity at the end of each month.

Bioethics PGD Project

PGD Students are required to develop a bioethics teaching project during the course of the program and to conduct this in the year following graduation. It involves students putting into practice what they have learnt by introducing areas of bioethics to students, faculty and staff in their parent institutions, conducting sessions related to research ethics and ERCs, etc. To see titles of projects developed by PGD alumni, click here

The PGD is open to professionals holding degrees in medicine, dentistry, nursing, biological sciences, to those involved in biomedical and health-related research, health administration and other relevant fields.
Applicants with a minimum of five years’ experience following basic qualification will be preferred, as will those with part or full-time affiliation with a healthcare organization/institution and involved in teaching and/or research. Applicants working in positions allowing them to foster ethics in their own institutions/organizations will also be given special consideration in the selection process.

Application Process

The academic cycle at CBEC begins in January but the admission process starts at least 6 months earlier. At the commencement of the admission cycle, information regarding the admissions process is displayed on the CBEC website. Additionally, information is disseminated through newspaper advertisements, social media platforms, email lists and any other means available.
Following a review of applications, shortlisted applicants will be invited for interviews with the Admission and Selection Committee. Interviews are conducted at CBEC in Karachi and if required, may also be conducted in other cities, or remotely through Zoom or similar means.

Application Requirements

PGD applicants must complete all sections of the application form and submit it along with all required documents listed below no later than the given deadline. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be processed further.

1. Application Form (Electronic Submission)

2. Documents (to be uploaded with the application form and also separately emailed to in a single email, as attachments):

  1. Brief curriculum vitae
  2. Essay: Submit a 500-word essay in your own words on why you think this diploma program is appropriate for you. Please do not forget to add a title and your full name to the essay. The essay should be a MS Word document, using Times New Roman script, with font size 12 and double line spacing. The essay should be saved with the applicants’ surname, e.g. malik.doc before uploading and emailing as an attachment. Note that the essay will also be screened for plagiarism.
  3. Attested scanned copy of undergraduate degree (e.g. MBBS, or BA/BS)
  4. Attested scanned copies of other relevant qualifications/fellowships
  5. Attested copy of postgraduate degree(s) if applicable
  6. Scanned letter of support (for full time employed applicants only) from the relevant institutional head on a letterhead. This letter should state that the institution supports you in acquiring this qualification and will ensure that you are able to attend all modules at CBEC, and participate in the distance learning components. For a sample letter of support, please click hereclick here.
  7. Scan of a recent photograph

4. 3. Two letters of recommendation (To be emailed directly by the person recommending the applicant, in confidence, to the following two email addresses: & The letters, preferably on a letterhead, should be from individuals in responsible positions, who know the applicant and believe that the applicant is suitable for pursuing a formal training in ethics. The letters of recommendation should be addressed to Prof. Farhat Moazam, Chairperson, Centre of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, SIUT. For more information regarding letter of recommendation, please click here

COVID-19 Related Regulations

1. All applicants will be required to submit proof of vaccination against COVID in addition to having received a booster dose, as per current Pakistan government regulations

  1. Unvaccinated applicants must provide valid evidence of a medical contraindication, duly certified by an ID physician. The Admission and Selection Committee will assess for acceptability or otherwise.

2. Pakistan government SOPs in place at the time will be applicable during the module, including use of masks and social distancing.

  1. Students will be expected to abide by any additional precautions faculty considers necessary during the module.

3. Students are expected to be present during all days of every module. Per existing policy, absence for any reason may result in being dropped from the program.

  1. Based on faculty discretion, students dropped due to unexpected illness including COVID, may be provided preference in admission to the following academic cycle of the program.


Applicants are expected to have an adequate command of English in order to participate in class discussions and handle reading and writing requirements. It is essential that applicants possess basic competency in computer skills including the use of email, MS Office programs, web-based searches, social media applications, video conferencing applications and other relevant utilities. Students are responsible for maintaining unrestricted access to broadband internet and a suitably equipped computer to enable participation in distance learning assignments.


PGD students are required to maintain an average of at least 60% in the first four graded assignments to continue in the program. Those unable to do so despite faculty assistance and counselling, may be asked to leave the program.

In addition, PGD students have to maintain a 60% average through the year. However, students who maintain an average of 60% throughout the year but have 3 failures in mandatory assignments – including, but not limited to presentations, Must Respond assignments, and the student blog – may be dropped from the program.

Throughout the module, students will have MCQ and SEQ based exams, which will count towards continuous assessment. In the last module, students are also required to pass another MCQ and SEQ based final examination.

PGD Bioethics Project

Students are also required to present and successfully defend a project in order to be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics.


Other requirements are punctuality, full attendance and active class participation in all 4 modules, and satisfactory and on-time completion of all assignments, including those related to distance learning components.


CBEC-SIUT waives the tuition fee of all students selected into the Postgraduate Diploma program and provides all reading material for courses electronically, at no cost. Lunch, tea, and snacks are also provided free during the modules held in Karachi.


Subject to availability, free accommodation (without meals) may be offered at the SIUT residential apartments for out-of-town candidates on a twin-sharing basis. The apartments provide free Wi-Fi for use by students.


Complementary daily transportation between the SIUT apartments and CBEC is provided for the duration of the modules in Karachi. Travel to and from Karachi for out-of-town students will be their own responsibility. CBEC-SIUT will however provide airport pick and drop services for non-Pakistani students to facilitate their arrival and departure. Pakistani students will be responsible for their transport arrangements to and from the Karachi airport. Several reliable radio cab services at the airport are easily available and can be utilized.

Facilities at CBEC

All four modules take place in CBEC in Karachi in a facilitative learning environment. CBEC is located on the 7th Floor of the Suleman Dawood Transplant Tower, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on Yaqub Khan Road. Adequate workspaces, computers, internet access, a library and photocopying facilities are available on site.